PRFCT Tips

Tagged with "Plants"

Pollinator on a flower

June 19-25 is National Pollinator Week. Why all the buzz?

• Bees pollinate 75% of the fruit, nuts, and vegetables grown in the United States.

• Native bees are responsible for pollinating many plants endemic to the Americas, including tomatoes and eggplant.

• Over 4,000 species of bees are native to the United States. Honeybees are not—they were brought to the Americas by European settlers.

Is your yard pollinator friendly? Here’s how it can be:

• Do not apply broadcast sprays for mosquitos and ticks, especially synthetic products. Broadcast sprays kill all insects, not just pests. Even organic sprays can be toxic to bees and butterflies.

• If you plan on having an event or are especially concerned about ticks or mosquitos, apply a plant-based essential oil-based spray using a pressurized pump sprayer with a long arm that can get into small spaces. Only spray in early morning or evening when pollinators are less active.

• Plant native plants to support native insect populations. Many insects are dependent on specific plants for shelter and food (think monarchs and milkweed), and many native crops (think tomatoes and eggplants) are dependent on native insects for pollination.

• Plant host plants, not just flowers. Before you can have a garden full of butterflies, you need to provide a food source for their caterpillars. Keep in mind that these plants will get munched, but you might not even notice the damage.

• Pollinators get dehydrated, so provide a water source for your bees and butterflies. To prevent your bug bath from becoming a mosquito breeding ground, change the water frequently.

Photo credit: Indra Widi / EyeEm / Getty Images

Icy path in winter

De-icers—even those labeled “natural”—can have nasty side effects. Many products burn pets’ paws, mouths, and throats when ingested. (Just think about the damage they do to concrete and cars…) Most contain salts that damage soil, dehydrate (and kill!) plants and trees, and pollute drinking and surface water.

Is it safe to salt your sidewalk? Not really—most products will have some downside. But slippery sidewalks aren’t safe, either. Instead of risking falls, take the following steps to minimize the impact of de-icer on your landscape, your pets, and the environment:

  • Use the bare minimum. Whenever possible, turn to elbow grease instead of chemicals. Remember: The point of de-icer is to make ice easier to shovel, not remove it completely. Read the product label for recommended application rates, and if possible, use less.
  • Apply de-icer BEFORE the storm hits. Preventing ice from forming requires less product (and elbow grease) than removing it once hardened.
  • Keep de-icing products away from your garden beds. Anything you apply will affect your soil’s composition, potentially damaging your plants.
  • Avoid products containing nitrogen-based urea. While it may be less-toxic for pets than salt, the nitrogen in these synthetic products eventually ends up in nearby bodies of water, contributing to algal blooms and other pollution.
  • Sprinkle bird seed, instead of sand or kitty litter, on ice to improve traction. Seed will not melt snow or ice, but will make pathways less slippery and provide a welcome winter meal for your feathered friends. Sprinkling sand or kitty litter creates a mess and can clog sewers and drains.
  • Put your pups in booties when taking winter walks. In addition to insulating their paws from cold pavement, you’ll protect them from irritation caused by salt and other de-icers. Plus…cute!
Milkweed and clover

Plants sprout from seeds, bulbs, rhizomes, and more, but weeds always originate in the same place: our minds. A weed is simply a plant you've been taught to view as undesirable.

Who taught you? Mostly chemical companies marketing products to keep "weeds" under control. For example, milkweed was long considered unattractive—now we view it as a vital tool to saving the monarch butterfly population.

Times change. Perceptions change. Fashions change: We once thought shoulder pads were a must-have accessory. Isn't it time to rethink our landscaping must-haves? Clover, anyone?

Privet hedge

Sprinkling Your Hedges?

July 29, 2016

How much water do your privet hedges need this summer? Not much!

If your privet was planted over two years ago, let it be. Well-established trees and shrubs in good soil, including privets, do not need any irrigation.

Newly planted privets—less than two years in the ground—should only be watered at the base. Spraying the leaves is the principle cause of scale disease that will kill your privet. See our drip hoses tip for more info on where to place hoses and when to remove them.

Drip irrigation

Got new trees and shrubs? Drip irrigation can be an effective way to keep them well-hydrated this summer, but keep in mind the following before you put down those hoses:

  • Place drip tubes beyond the root ball, as well as on it, to encourage roots to grow into the surrounding soil.
  • Water newly planted trees and shrubs seldom (less often than your lawn) and deep (12-18"). Too much watering encourages excess growth, a magnet for fungus diseases and sucking insects.
  • Remove tubes after two years. Your plants will be well-established and just won't need the irrigation anymore.

Photo credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture

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